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interviewCorrie's Antony: I'm just a lucky fan

Tim Healy and Antony Cotton in Corrie
Tim Healy and Antony Cotton in Corrie
CORONATION Street star Antony Cotton was a huge fan of the show long before he joined the cast. "I've got a Hilda Ogden bust in my office and I know a lot of trivia about the Street," explains the Bury-born actor, who plays gay knicker-stitcher Sean Tully.

"For some people, it's a job. They turn up, they do their lines and they go home. But I have a massive affection for the show.

"I actually asked to be in it - that's how I got the role. I sent a letter to the, then, producer Tony Wood, because Sean didn't exist.

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"He wasn't a character and they weren't planning on bringing him in. He was a total creation by me and a couple of the writers. The letter to Tony said, 'Give me a job. I'm cheap.' And he did. It took a while, but I got in."

Coronation Street (ITV1, tonight, 7.30pm and 8.30pm) sees Sean move from despair to elation as dad Brian (Tim Healy) turns up at the Rovers. But Father's Day on Sunday brings devastating news and sends Sean off with an urgent question for his mum.

Voted Most Popular Newcomer at last year's National Television Awards, the storyline about Sean's past has added a new dimension to the character. A longer-term relationship with a boyfriend is also on the cards.

"It was brave for ITV to decide to put a character like Sean in Corrie - a gay character in a show screened five times a week. We still live in a world where some people don't like it. And even though they can naff off, it's still a consideration you have to make when you're making a family drama like that.

"People in the street are lovely. I have a wide range of recognition, from tiny four-year-olds to 84-year-olds. Old ladies seem to like me.

Core

"To be accepted as one of the gang by the core Corrie audience is a real pleasure. Now they are ready for him to fall in love.

"Not that he's going to live happily ever after, because that never makes good television, does it? It's important for him to get his heart broken. It's like Raquel - that's who I'm playing. Mixed with Annie Walker and Ena Sharples.

"Sean's love life will mirror Raquel's, I think. It was just brilliant to watch. You always knew she was setting herself up for a fall. Sarah Lancashire played her so beautifully, that I've kind of taken a leaf out of her book. I don't know whether she knows that, but I have."

As first revealed on this page in April, Antony, 30, has an ambition to one day become the 'landlady' of the Rovers, although he's happy to wait.

Liz McDonald, played by Beverley Callard, eventually takes over behind the bar when current landlady Shelley (Sally Lindsay) departs this summer.

Part-time barman Sean has often been used to provide the comedy contrast in Street scripts. But there's much more to this former Queer As Folk star than just camping it up on the cobbles.

"The comedy I could do standing on my head. I love all the serious stuff. I've been a jobbing actor all my life and when I leave this show I'll still be a jobbing actor, only more famous. I'd also love to write an episode of Corrie and direct."

The downside of soap fame is going on holiday to the other side of the world and being followed by a photographer.

Hilarious

"But I understand it. It's all part of the hilarious life of somebody on the telly. There's no point doing it if you're not going to love it.

"I've never had any particular desire to be famous. I've just always loved the job and being an actor. I spent so many years in the wilderness.

"Before I joined the Street, I couldn't get arrested. In the end, somebody made me famous and I enjoy it.

"Now I stay in nice hotels and get upgraded to first class on flights. I think it's important when you are 'famous' to actually understand it.

"I think a lot of people fall by the wayside because they don't really get it. It's lovely to be famous for something and for people saying they like what you do.

"And then you see the poor sods that go in to reality television shows and are left high and dry afterwards. They don't actually get the reason that they're famous is simply because they were on the telly for 16 weeks - and then it just becomes a horrible double-edged sword. They enjoy it for a while and then all the wheels start to come off.

"As an actor, I hope I'll always carry on working. I don't do it for the fame. That's just something that happens that you can't really control.

"I know what my job is and all the other side of it doesn't matter. You hear people prattling on about how difficult the fame side of it is. Well, yeah, it is, but if you don't like it, go and work in Boots, and then no one will be bothered."

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